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Graduate Faculty Appointments


To describe the organization, privileges, and responsibilities of the Graduate Faculty. 

Applies to: 

Graduate Faculty

Policy Statement: 

University faculty and other persons qualified by training and experience may be appointed as members of the Graduate Faculty at KU. Only members of the Graduate Faculty may participate on graduate exam committees. Only the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty has the authority to appoint members to the Graduate Faculty. Members of the Graduate Faculty will be appointed in keeping with University policies and accreditation regulations.

Graduate Faculty Privileges
Graduate Faculty may be granted one (1) or more specific privileges which are individually recorded in University systems. The five (5) privileges of Graduate Faculty are: 
  • Serving on master's-level committees
  • Serving on doctoral committees
  • Chairing master's-level committees
  • Chairing doctoral committees*
  • Serving as the Graduate Studies Representative on doctoral committees*
* "Doctoral committees" refers to both the oral comprehensive exam and the final dissertation defense.
Members of the Graduate Faculty are expected to foster and maintain positive advising and mentoring relationships that contribute to the scholarly and professional development of graduate students.

Eligibility for Service Privileges

To hold any Graduate Faculty appointment, an individual must show evidence of an initial productive contribution to scholarship and continuing professional activity, demonstrating the ability to contribute to high-quality graduate education.

Productive professional activity may take different forms across disciplines. Conventional evidence of such activity includes:

  • Effective teaching,
  • Scholarly publication or creative work,
  • Participation in professional societies, and
  • Other scholarly or creative activity.

Eligibility for Chairing Privileges

Master’s and doctoral chairing privileges are reserved for tenured and tenure-track faculty. Unit-level exceptions may be granted to allow full-time career/specialty faculty holding the terminal degree in the field (as defined by the discipline) to solely chair master’s committees and/or professional doctoral committees (see Exceptions and Special Circumstances below). The privilege of chairing Ph.D. committees is reserved exclusively for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

To qualify for chairing doctoral committees, a member of the graduate faculty must demonstrate continuing activity commensurate with being an established scholar in the faculty member's field and involvement in the graduate education program as evidenced by:

  • Teaching graduate courses,
  • Advising and mentoring graduate students,
  • Serving on thesis and dissertation committees, and
  • Maintaining an ongoing program of scholarly or creative activity, which includes a record of scholarship, publication, creative works, and other contributions to the field.

Chairing privileges, unlike service privileges, are limited to the faculty member’s home unit and any units in which they have a courtesy appointment.  

In addition to the chair, any member of the Graduate Faculty who holds committee service privileges may serve as a co-chair on committees at or below the highest level for which they are appointed, within or outside of the home unit. Co-chairing recognizes a faculty member who is making a contribution beyond service on the student’s committee, but it is still the chair who carries the primary responsibility for committee leadership.

Eligibility for Graduate Studies Representative Privileges

To be eligible to serve as the Graduate Studies Representative (GSR), the Graduate Faculty member must be appointed to the regular tenured or tenure-track faculty. Please see the Graduate Studies Representative on Doctoral Exam Committees policy for expectations of this role.

Appointment Process and Duration

Upon hire, tenured or tenure-track faculty are automatically granted all of the above privileges by the Council, with the exception of doctoral chairing. For doctoral chairing and for any privileges requested for non-tenure track faculty, the unit is responsible for nominating faculty. It is the responsibility of the nominating unit to provide appropriate evidence of eligibility. Upon request by a nominating unit, members of the KU Medical Center's Graduate Faculty will be automatically granted service privileges equivalent to those held at the KUMC campus.  

Tenured and tenure-track faculty in Lawrence or Edwards campus units that grant graduate degrees, and KUMC faculty granted reciprocal privileges, will be appointed to the Graduate Faculty for the duration of their employment. Career/specialty faculty and other employees of the University and its affiliates may be appointed to the Graduate Faculty for up to five (5) years. Such appointments are renewable.

Emeritus/Emerita Status

Emeritus/Emerita Graduate Faculty appointments are intended to facilitate committee continuity for students already working with a retiring faculty member. When KU awards a faculty member Emeritus/Emerita faculty status, the Office of Graduate Studies will administratively extend the faculty member's Graduate Faculty appointment and the privileges held at the time of retirement for three (3) years post-retirement. 

A unit may petition to further extend Emeritus/Emerita appointments beyond the initial three-year (3-year) period. One (1) or more additional extensions may be granted for up to three (3) years at a time. The Professor Emeritus/Emerita must demonstrate recent research activity, or other relevant professional contribution, as well as continued engagement with both the home unit at KU and the wider field. When such appointments are extended, the Professor Emeritus/Emerita may continue to enjoy all Graduate Faculty privileges except independently chairing doctoral committees.

Graduate programs are responsible for monitoring and maintaining appropriate privileges for their Emeritus/Emerita Graduate Faculty. Emeritus/Emerita Graduate Faculty may count as internal members at the unit's discretion. 

Graduate Faculty as Students

In special cases where members of the Graduate Faculty enroll in a KU graduate program as part of their professional development, they may be permitted to retain their Graduate Faculty appointment. They may not supervise or serve as the instructor of record for students that are peers in the graduate program in which they are enrolled.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 
Request for unit level exceptions to allow career/specialty faculty who hold the terminal degree in the field (as defined by the discipline) to solely chair master’s or professional doctoral committees must include:
  • A detailed rationale for the request based upon the unique circumstances of the unit. For professional doctoral committee requests, confirmation that, if the exception is approved, only faculty holding achievements in research or practice commensurate with doctoral expectations will be nominated.
  • A list of the specific faculty titles for which they are requesting chair privileges (e.g., Professor of the Practice, Associate Clinical Professor, Assistant Teaching Professor), and
  • A copy of position descriptions that includes the responsibility for chairing graduate committees.
If the unit-level exception is approved by the Council, nominations for chairing privileges must still be submitted individually, but will be administratively approved.   
Unit level exceptions:
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Master of Science in Education in Special Education
Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science (online)
Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology
Master of Science in Geology 

Graduate Studies

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Effective on: 
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
graduate faculty, thesis, dissertation, committee chair, committee member, dissertation chair
Change History: 

12/19/2023: Added Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science (online), Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology, and Master of Science in Geology to Unit Level Exceptions.
11/20/2023: Added Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Master of Science in Education in Special Education to Unit Level Exceptions.
09/19/2023: Updated language referring to "non-tenure track faculty" to "career/specialty faculty."
08/10/2023: Substantive changes including automatic granting of some privileges to tenure track faculty, defining co-chair role, and allowance for chair exceptions.
06/25/2020: Changed Dean of Graduate Studies to Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
05/21/2019: Major policy revision approved by the Provost 28 April 2019.  Accompanied by substantive software changes in GradFac database and PtD workflow system. - Amber Roberts Graham.
06/03/2016: Technical edits to bring policy in line with new Emeritus/Emerita Graduate Faculty policy approved by SVPAA on 2 June 2016. - Amber Roberts Graham.
06/01/2016: Removed outdated link from the Related Forms section. Added comments to Related Procedures outlining how to pursue Graduate Faculty appointments and status renewals. - Amber Roberts Graham.
11/30/2012: Updated policy approved by the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
03/14/2008: Added to KU Policy Library by Absinthe Algaier.

Personnel: Faculty/Academic Staff Categories: 
Personnel: Staff Categories: 

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